All the runners at the stadium are trying to win, but only one of them gets the prize.  You must run in the same way, meaning to win.  All the fighters at the games go into strict training; they do this just to win a wreath that will wither away, but we do it for a wreath that will never wither.  (1 Cor.9:24-25).


Beginning with this passage from St. Paulwhere in effect he tells us that in the Christian contest we are all called to be winners not of an earthly but a heavenly wreath, I would like to reflect on the great hope for living our Christian life. which the mystery of the Transfiguration of our Lord, gives us.

In his commentary on last Sunday’s gospel where Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert, St. Augustine says “do you notice that Christ has been tempted and fail to notice that he overcame the temptation?  Recognise your own self tempted in him and conquering also in him”.  In today’s Gospel something similar is happening.  Notice where the Transfiguration is placed in all three synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke.  It comes between the first and second prediction of the Passion and of Peter’s Profession of faith in Jesus as Messiah, and in Matthew, as Son of the living God.

This is very significant.  It demonstrates that the Transfigured Christ, that is Jesus risen and glorified, is at the centre of the Cross i.e. of every form of suffering and of death itself; and secondly, that it is the crucified and risen Jesus that gives suffering and death its meaning as we sang at Lauds this morning – “Jesus Christ, our Lord, brought an end to death; he has proclaimed life and immortality through his gospel”.

How does all this affect our Christian life?  I think nowhere in our modern world is it seen so clearly as in the heroic witness of the 21 Coptic Egyptian young men who were martyred for their faith in Jesus.   And seen in the mother of the two brothers among them, who forgave their murderers and prays for their conversion as told by their brother who said he was proud of his martyred brothers, and that the whole village was not sad but rejoicing over the witness of so many of them who gave their lives confessing Christ.

Pope Francis in this year of Consecrated Life has called on Religious to wake up the world.  Where I ask, would any of us get a more inspiring wake-up call to match that of these martyred young men?

I will conclude with a verse from a hymn on the feast of the Transfiguration and will say it in union with these martyrs who have already won the prize, and with a prayer for ourselves that one day, we too, will be accounted among the blessed.

Transfigured Christ, believed and loved,
In you our only hope has been;
Grant us, in your unfathomed love,
Those things no eye has ever seen.